Constitution Cafe: The Constitutional Limits of the Police Use of Force, June 10

Join Ekow Yankah, law professor at Cardozo School of Law; freedom fighter Kerry Ellington; facilitator Eric Rey, your neighbors, and local experts in a series of community dialogues the constitutional limits of the police use of force.

This project creates rigorous constitutional discussions outside of the lecture hall and allows us to explore how this document impacts our daily lives. Each Constitution Cafe will bring together guests with academic expertise on the constitution and lived expertise on New Haven, as well as create space for you to bring your expertise to the conversation.

Bring your ideas, questions, and curiosity and join in this online iteration of artist Linda Pollack’s project, My Daily Constitution.

Ekow Yankah

Law Professor at Cardozo School of Law

Professor Yankah hold degrees from the University of Michigan, Columbia Law School and Oxford University. His work focuses on questions of criminal theory and punishment and political theory and particularly, questions political obligation and its interaction with justifications of punishment. His work has appeared in law review articles and peer reviewed legal theory journals and books including NOMOS, Ratio Juris, Law and Philosophy, Criminal Law and Philosophy and the Illinois Law Review. He has been a visiting fellow at the Israeli Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), a Visiting Professor of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a Distinguished Visiting Faculty Member at the University of Toronto School of Law.

He has been recognized numerous times by his students for his dedication to teaching; most recently he was awarded the Cardozo Alumni of the Year Award by Cardozo BALLSA, becoming the first non-Cardozo graduate or faculty member to be recognized. His interests have also led him to develop expertise in voting rights and election law and he serves as the co-chair of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, the voting rights arm of the New York Democratic party and the coordinating arm of the DNC believed to be the largest voting rights group in the country. He sits on the Board of the Innocence Project and was awarded as an Advocate of Justice (2017) and has served on the Board of the American Constitution Society (NY Chapter). He maintains a public presence writing for publications spanning The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Huffington Post, among others, and has been a regular commentator on criminal law issues on television and radio including MSNBC, BBC, BBC International, PBS and NPR.

Kerry Ellington

Freedom fighter, grassroots community organizer, and radical educator

Kerry Ellington is a freedom fighter, grassroots community organizer and radical educator, recently recognized by Connecticut Magazine as, “Connecticut’s 40 Under 40: Class 2018”. Kerry currently serves as a Community & Economic Development Community Organizer at New Haven Legal Assistance Association and has held positions at non-profit organizations including Teach Our Children, Youth Rights Media, Common Ground High School, Congregations Organized for New Connecticut, and New Haven Public Schools. As native of New York City, she originally came to Connecticut to study journalism at Quinnipiac University as a first generation undergrad. She spent almost five years teaching at Common Ground High School, Urban Farm and Environmental Education Center where she engaged the student body in political education and social justice work organizing experiential learning programming for students to attend culturally relevant plays, lectures, conferences, protest and events that helped to deepen their consciousness, broaden their lens and language for social justice, liberation and anti-racist work. She played a key leadership role in advancing conversations about institutional bias, anti-racism and racial justice and led efforts to transform the school culture, curriculum and organizational practices to lead to greater access and equity for Black and Brown students and staff. As a founding member of the school’s diversity committee, she advocated for culturally competent pedagogy, and worked to build inclusive organizational systems and policy and practice. Prior to her work at Common Ground, Kerry was a youth organizer at Youth Rights Media, where she supported young people to run organizing campaigns around alternative schools and the school to prison pipeline. She began her organizing career as an AmeriCorps member and Public Ally at Teach Our Children, a parent-led organizing group in New Haven working to eradicate punitive school based discipline policies and practices that uphold the school to prison pipeline. Kerry has maintained a deep personal commitment to grassroots community organizing outside of her professional work. Her watershed moment came in 2010 when friend and fellow organizer Jewu Richardson, who was unarmed, was shot by New Haven Police. Ellington helped found People Against Police Brutality, a grassroots organization that fiercely organizes victims, families and communities impacted by police violence and advocates for police accountability across our state. Since then she has advocated for victims while helping to raise money for sufficient legal defense and bail funds. She is a key leader in the Justice for Jayson Negron coalition, fighting for greater police accountability, oversight following the death of 15-year-old Jayson Negron, who was fatally shot by Bridgeport Police officers in 2017.

Eric Rey

Facilitator/Moderator

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Linda Pollack

Artist, Founder of My Daily Constitution

Linda Pollack studied economics at Penn State University, and art at the Vrije Akademie in The Hague and the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, the Netherlands. She spent a decade in the lowlands, eventually combining her art practice with cultural policy development while working for the European Cultural Foundation in Amsterdam. At the ECF she set up APEXchanges, a groundbreaking arts mobility fund that addressed post-cold war Europe's east / west cultural and economic divide. She also developed initiatives that promoted reconciliation and civil society in war-torn Yugoslavia, with Haris Pasovic and his Sarajevo Festival Ensemble, and Macedonian rock stars "Leb i Sol", among others. In 1996, Linda returned to the United States to pursue her MFA in New Genres at UCLA, and received her MFA from the visual arts department of UCSD. On the evening of 9/11/2001, as the Director of the Freedom to Write Committee of PEN USA, Linda was set to produce the world premier of the English translation of "Tesri Dastak" ("The Third Knock"), the debut play of renowned Pakistani playwright Shahid Nadeem, of the Ajoka Theatre in Lahore Pakistan. Nadeem, living in Los Angeles as a visiting Feuchtvanger Fellow, had written this first work about poverty and the cycle of violence which followed the 1945 partition of India and Pakistan. Faced with the horror of that day, the first impulse of the cast and the production team was to cancel the event. In the days that followed, after much deliberation and soul searching, the cast (which included acclaimed actors Shashir Kurup, Bernard White, Kal Penn, and Lina Patel, among others) made the decision to go forward with the play. A week later, an unforgettable evening of theater and discussion took place at 18th Street's Highways Performance Space. The evening reinforced Linda's conviction in exchange, art and dialogue as an antidote to fear, a way to come to terms with the complexity of the tragedy, a way to give articulation to the ineffable. In 2002, Linda created My Daily Constitution, a public work that creates new, fluid spaces where communities can come together to discuss the challenges and possibilities of our shared civic life. With MDC, Pollack proposes to go beyond the visible symbols of patriotism, beyond flags flapping on cars, and invites people to explore the less visible— yet no less important— world of civic ideals and community engagement. She has held MDC in Los Angeles, NYC, Seattle, Cincinnati, and most recently, in Indianapolis. Pollack has been awarded numerous grants, including a residency at Schloss Solitude of Stuttgart Germany, the the 18th Street Arts Center of Santa Monica California. She has exhibited and presented her work in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States.